INSIDE LOOK: The Source Copy of the 1982 DC COMICS STYLE GUIDE That’s Being Published as a Hardcover

An EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: 13 IMAGES that will blow your mind — and fire up your imagination…

The other day, I paid a visit to Standards Manual, the Brooklyn design studio and boutique publisher that has partnered with DC to release commercially the long awaited 1982 DC Comics Style Guide, with art by the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

We’ve published a lot on the project already, and we’ve got much more to come in the months ahead but I wanted to take a quick break to show you pages from the source copy that’s being used as the basis of the hardcover book, which is due at the end of August.

So, here’s a gallery of 13 IMAGES, along with some thoughts and info to catch you up on the project:

1. The 1982 DC Comics Style Guide is much bigger than I’d realized. I always imagined it to be handbook-size but it’s a full, loose-leaf binder and the hardcover will be produced at a 1:1 ratio, 9.5″ x 11.5″. I used a pen here to show the scale.

2. Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed, the owners of Standards Manual (and the adjacent design studio Order) have been at this longer than you think. They got this copy some time ago online and have been working with DC to get the project off the ground for a while now.

3. There has been some hubbub about the cost. It’s $95 through Standards Manual, $90 if you order by July 4. Since it’s also being distributed to comics shops by Lunar Distribution, at least one online discount retailer has been undercutting the cost by about $30. Standards has seen many of its direct orders cancelled as a result.

UPDATED: That’s just glare on the original binder, which is actually from a later edition (note Nightwing). That will not be part of the hardcover, which will utilize a cleaner, 1982 scan.

Let me tell you: This thing will be a gorgeous, 384-page hardcover, coffee-table book. Standards is a tiny operation and deserves as much direct support as you can give it, if only as thanks for finally getting this to market. If you legitimately need to save the difference, I completely understand and you should do what’s right for you. But if you’re just trying to save a few bucks on the side, please reconsider and give them your direct support. Besides, you want to give them a financial incentive to do follow-ups. (At the very least, support your local comics shop.)

4. I’m beyond thrilled and honored to actually be involved in the book itself. I just last week interviewed both artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, who pencilled the Guide and who is enthusiastically backing the project, as well as Mary Yedlin, the former DC marketing exec who was instrumental in the creation of the original Guides. The interviews will be included in the book, along with a foreword by former DC chief Paul Levitz. (I do feel compelled to add that my intense enthusiasm for the project predates my role in it. That is well documented; there is zero correlation to my advocacy of the project.)

5. Though there are plenty of color plates, most of the Guide is in black and white, with a color guide. This allowed licensees flexibility in terms of how to size the art, etc. Most of the color pages you’ve seen online were colored after the fact by fans or whomever.

6. The Guide is broken down into distinct, tabbed sections: Introduction, Superman, The Batman (!), Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, and so forth. Just an interesting footnote.

7. The initial print run is 12,000 and word around the Hall of Justice is it is selling hot. Don’t get locked out, kids.

8. As we wrote recently, the book will be more than the 1982 DC Comics Style Guide. It will include pages from later editions and there are 1982 pages that are probably missing. Since the original Guides were looseleaf binders with pages meant to be added and removed as needed, this is pretty common on the collectors’ market. Standards made the conscious decision to use the copy it acquired as the basis of the book to give the reader that “as used” experience. Paging through the Guide, it really works.

9. But what of the material not in the book? There were many revisions over the years. Standards is keeping its options open. If this one continues to sell as it has been, there’s always the chance for more. That’s basic economics. Me, I could see a paperback edition with bonus material, but that’s just me riffing off the top of my head. We’re a long away from any such ideas.

10. I’ve seen uninformed comments online that suggest that somehow DC is not backing this project or that it’s an unofficial release. Balderdash! DC is very much involved. Any thoughts to the contrary are utter nonsense. That’s just the internet being the internet.

11. Don’t forget: Everyone rightly credits Garcia-Lopez as the Guide’s artist, but it was Dick Giordano who inked it. Giordano was not only one of the best inkers who ever lived, his forte was bringing out a penciller’s inherent style while giving everything a sense of consistency. The pairing here is pure magic, but that’s not a surprise, is it? Joe Orlando was also deeply involved in the Guide.

12. As a Batman fanatic, I could spend hours just staring at those images alone. And, hey, check out the Wayne Foundation building there!

13. I am one happy dude.

The 1982 DC Comics Style Guide is up for pre-order now through your local comics shop via Lunar Distribution. But again, my preference is to go directly to Standards Manual. Click here to order.


— 1982 DC COMICS STYLE GUIDE Now Up For PRE-ORDER. Click here.

— OUTSTANDING! 1982 DC STYLE GUIDE Reprint Will Include Pages From Later Editions. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Thank you, Dan, for doing work that not only promotes amazing things in a historical context but shines a light (bat-light?) on truth over speculation and Internet rumors. It is much appreciated. I, too, and excited for this project and this article just fans those flames. I have already ordered a copy for myself at my LCS, Nostalgia Newsstand, the longest running comic shop in all of North Carolina. Given that the original guide was in a three ring binder which permitted these beautiful art works to remain flat, as shown here, how does Standards Manual plan to bind these together? I’d hate to lose sight of any of the artwork when the book is laid flat open. Also, any chance of getting signed editions? I’d love to pay a little more for it if I knew that it would benefit Mr. Garcia-Lopez, Mr. Giordano’s estate, Mr. Orlando, you, and whomever else’s creative output is contained within the pages of this book.

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    • Much appreciated, Steven. It will be a hardcover and I can attest that having seen other publications by Standards Manual, the artwork should be unobstructed. They are taking great care. You never know for sure until the book comes in, but I’m confident.

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      • Hi Stephen, in printer talk, the books are hardcover casebound with sewn sections. Think large scale art book quality, that is what we’re producing. You can see photos of the exact same binding and case method here with another title of ours:

        The NASA book is the exact same dimensions as DC, the only difference is DC will be thicker at 384 pages as opposed to 280 for NASA.

        For all of our books we work with the same fantastic printer who specialize in art books of the highest quality. Unfortunately that comes with a price tag, but we think you’ll be pleased with the print, paper, and binding. It also makes for a durable book that will probably outlast us all!

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  2. Won’t be changing my order. Looking forward to its release.

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  3. Very impressed with your loyalty to Standards Manual. They did the heavy lifting, just like Superman, and deserve the business. Support the little guy (Al Pratt, Ray Palmer, or otherwise)!

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    • Thanks, Laurence. They deserve a lot of credit and support. I don’t mind if people choose to support their local comics shop. I completely understand that and typically encourage that. I also understand if people are on a tight budget and have to make choices. But all things being equal, support Standards Manual. It’s also the best way to vote for a follow-up edition.

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  4. Looking forward to it! I’ve seen a copy of the original and it’s wonderful.

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  5. Thanks for all the background info, Dan! I am not changing my order either.

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  6. Once again, I’m grateful that the ’82 DC Comics Style Guide is getting an official release. It’s been a long time coming.

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  7. Preordered and sticking with SM.

    I actually own a real copy of the guide that I obtained years ago. Any idea (ballpark or otherwise) how much a presumably complete one is worth today?

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    • They’re hard to find, so they’re expensive. Couldn’t give you an estimate, though.

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  8. Like others above, I placed my order through Standards Manual. Of course I would have liked to pay less, but I have a feeling I’ll get my copy earlier than if I’d ordered through DCBS. (I hope I didn’t just jinx that. )

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  9. Can’t wait for this one!

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